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‘I Had to Show People Where All This Pain Came From’: Mary J. Blige Gets Real About Music Being Her ‘Testimony’ While Coping With Trauma During Her ‘My Life’ Music Era

Mary J. Blige is ready for fans to know the full story behind the records that have pulled so many through their darkest hours.

The “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” hails from New York and has survived more than 30 years of career roller coasters in the music industry. But at both her highest and lowest points, Blige has seen success and continued support from her loyal fan base. 

Mary J. Blige says her “My Life” documentary will explore her life experiences that fueled one of her best-selling albums, “My Life.” @therealmaryjblige/Instagram

Blige says part of the reason she wanted to release her “Mary J. Blige’s My Life” documentary was due to that unwavering support, and the love fans continue to show for what is arguably considered her best album, “My Life.”

“About two years ago we were celebrating the 25th anniversary of ‘My Life,’ the whole world was celebrating the 25th,” recalls Blige while speaking with “Extra” this week. It was in that moment of celebration that she knew the documentary had to happen.

“This is the perfect time because I thought about it before but when was it the right time to do it? I said I’mma do it now while everybody’s celebrating, and so I can gather up fans and get their testimonies, find out you know, get performances, all types of live performances and things like that, and it was just time. It was time to do it,” she says.

Blige shocked fans at the end of May when she announced the project during an acceptance speech for her induction into the Apollo Theatre’s Walk of Fame. The trailblazing singer says the documentary is very much a celebration of the 3x platinum album, but it’s also her opportunity to fully share the inspiration behind the records that have resonated with fans since 1994.

“It was extremely important because I had to show people where all this pain came from that was in the ‘My Life’ album in the first place,” she says. “That’s really it, it’s what it was, it’s what I was living, it’s what I was going through, it’s what I’ve been through since I was a 5-year-old little girl, 16, 9, of just so much hell, and it just being in my head and how can I get it out, and why is it not coming out.”

During her 2011 VH1 “Behind the Music” episode, Blige revealed that she was molested and sexually abused throughout her childhood.

“When I was 5 years old I was molested,” she recalled. “I remember feeling, literally, right before it happened, I just could not believe that this person was going to do this to me. That thing followed me all my life.The shame of thinking my molestation was my fault. It led me to believe I wasn’t worth anything.” The result of her suffering led her to addiction to alcohol, dabbling with cocaine, and years of dealing with depression. All of which she was able to overcome during her marriage to former manager Kendu Issacs, although the couple would divorce in June 2018 after 15 years together.

While music has been an outlet for the singer, who has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, she told “Extra” it has been just as helpful to her fans.

“It’s a lot of responsibility, because these deep testimonies, I don’t have that much power, but you know it was my life, my testimony, all the dark things I was going through that pulled other people out to say, ‘You know what, I’m gonna speak too, I’m ‘gona tell my story,’ and so, you know, it’s just humbling and a responsibility, and it’s amazing at the same time.”

“Mary J. Blige’s My Life” premieres on Friday, June 25, on Amazon Prime.

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